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Susa Cave, shadows of the past by John Spies

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Susa Cave, shadows of the past by 

I revisited this cave in Mae Hong Son province, Thailand in late Feb 2012. I had found it and named it in 1985, had pushed its exploration in the 80s and 90s and taken a BBC film crew to shoot a Planet Earth sequence in there in 2000. Deeper inside the CO2 concentration reaches 100 times the levels outside. With the BBC team I spent six 12 hour days in this toxic mix while the alarms on their digital meters blared danger. The entrance chamber is a prehistoric habitation site. On the day of my solitary visit a cave mist had gathered near the entrance and the shadows that played on the walls were reminiscent of ancient rock art in the area. It is a remote and peaceful place and many memories of the adventures and discoveries played in my mind.
Canon 5DMKII
Canon 24-105 L lens @ 35mm
Tripod/manual settings/ 10 sec timer/LED front light
ISO 100
13 sec

I am an Australian expat living in the hills of Mae Hong Son province Thailand (please visit I photograph almost everything, above and below ground.

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  • loiteke
    loitekealmost 3 years ago


  • loiteke
    loitekealmost 3 years ago

    Congratul;ations!! Great image, great writing. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Thanks Meeli, much appreciated

    – John Spies

  • Carla Wick/Jandelle Petters
    Carla Wick/Jan...almost 3 years ago

    Having visited many caves on my own, I’m envious that you have found such a grand beauty! If the CO2 is so high, what do you need to further explore? Have measurements been taken to see how large or how far back it goes?

  • The CO2 is a steady 5%, which is almost unbreathable but if you move slowly and breathe fast you can survive. 600 meters inside are 2 huge waterfalls and one of our expeditions spent 3 days dragging in bamboo scaffolding to climb it. The passage then continues 1.4 kms to a sump. The BBC were there to film the extremely rare ‘angel fish’, cave adapted eyeless waterfall climbing fish which live on the waterfalls…6 days of filming for about 15 secs on Planet Earth.

    – John Spies

  • Trish Meyer
    Trish Meyeralmost 3 years ago

    Fascinating !

  • Julie  White
    Julie Whitealmost 3 years ago

    Just superb.

  • jamesmhe
    jamesmheover 2 years ago

    excellent shot John, and a really interesting narrative too!

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